The King is Back: Intel Centrino 2 Released, Sony and Lenovo Announce New Lineups
July 15, 2008 10:30 AM
The Vaio lineup comes in many attractive forms, all featuring raised keyboards, 45 nm Core 2 Duos, and, with the exception of the business oriented BZ, Blu-Ray players.
The ThinkPad X200 is ultra-thin at 0.83 in., 2.95 lb. It will compete with the MacBook Air for form factor. Disk drive not included.
The Lenovo IdeaPad notebooks feature Centrino 2 and will make decent entertainment or gaming machines.
Intel is looking to remind AMD and their Puma platform who's king of the chipset/processor jungle
last weekend previewed the
upcoming Intel Centrino 2 platform
, Intel's fifth generation mobile platform. The new platform for laptops
launched July 14
with new laptop-oriented Core 2 Duo processors, a new chip set (the GM45 Express chipset), and wireless technology upgrades. The new wireless will support both draft-n 802.11 wireless and WiMax. WiMax is an upcoming wireless technology, which
Sprint will be test-deploying in Baltimore in September
, with countrywide adoption within two years.
The new platform sets its sights squarely on competitor
AMD's Puma platform
for mobile computing, which is looking to squirrel away a bit of marketshare of its own. Centrino 2 is launching in 2 flavors -- standard for the consumer market and vPro for enterprise customers.
The launch experienced
some minor glitches
, which Intel announced, including problems with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification of its draft-n wireless devices and problems interfacing its integrated graphics. Still Intel expects the release to go off without a hitch.
Intel is emphasizing mobility for the release in many ways by focusing on cutting power requirements and offering smaller, thinner form factors with less heat. The most significant improvement along this path is the upgrade to Penryn 45 nm processors. Three of its processors have a thermal envelope of 25 watts, which will allow for more compact, economical laptops.
Another emphasis of the platform is graphics. While the new platform will also provide support for NVIDIA and ATI technologies, it will also support Intel's
upcoming PM45 discrete graphics offering
, coming in August. The system will also feature Switchable Graphics, which will allow switching between integrated and discrete graphics based on the task at hand. For high power computing Intel is also releasing a new Core 2 Extreme processor as part of the release, which clocks in at 3.06 GHz and is built using 45 nm technology.
The business lineup vPro includes many management, virtualization, and security upgrades that will please business users. Among these is the ability to wake laptops from deep sleep outside corporate LANs for patching purposes.
Out the gate there is strong manufacturer support, with Fujitsu, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Sony all offering products featuring the platform. Support seems especially strong for business models, with slightly less variety in consumer offerings available at launch.
Fujitsu is offering a new enterprise oriented tablet notebook, the
LifeBook T5010. It replaces the previous T4220, features a modular bay for optical drive/battery expansion, vPro technology, a
13.3-inch display, and weighs a scant 4.5 lbs.
Toshiba is offering two new Centrino 2 notebooks as part of its Tecra line. The new
Tecra M10 and the Tecra A10 will be aimed at business and will also feature vPro technology and options for 64 or 128 GB solid state drives.
Sony is among to adopters leading the biggest Centrino 2 charge. It is debuting 4 new laptops ranging from petit to powerful. The new models are named
VAIO Z, FW, SR and BZ and all feature Centrino 2. Perhaps most impressive is the Vaio Z which has a 1-inch thick, 3.4 pound, 13.1-inch 16:9 form factor, but manages to pack in Blu-Ray, HDMI, Nvidia 9300M discrete graphics, a full size hard drive bay, and the pricey option for dual SSD drives in Raid 0. It retails for $1,800, or $2,300 with dual SSDs.
Also noteworthy is the VAIO BZ, which is all business, being the only one of the lineup to lack HDMI and Blu-Ray. It will retail at $1,000 starting and features V-Pro. All the laptops feature raised keyboards similar to those found in the MacBook Pro notebooks. Sony has long toyed with the idea.
The second company leading the Centrino 2 charge is Lenovo, which is debuting and MacBook Air competitor to lead off, with
the ThinkPad X200
. The X200 measures in at 2.95 lb and 0.8 inches. SSD and traditional hard drive options are available and the screen is 12.1". it features 4 GB ram and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor. It will retail for $1,199 starting.
Also from Lenovo are the more weighty
Y530, Y430, Y730 and U330 IdeaPad lineup
. The Y430, Y530 Y730 are similar in shape but differ in processors, graphics, and screen size. They feature 14.1-inch, 15.4-inch and 17.1-inch respectively. The Y430 features Intel integrated graphics, the Y530 offers NVIDIA NB9M GS 256MB graphics, while the Y730 ups the ante with ATI M86 ME 512MB graphics. The Y530 will come with a Centrino 2 P7350 processor, while the Y730 will have a Centrino 2 P7350 processor.
FInally, Lenovo is also
launching SL, R, T, and W series ThinkPads
to complete its dizzying array of Centrino 2 offerings. The Thinkpads will range from $699 to $1199 and have HDMI and Blu-Ray options. There's a 3G add-on from AT&T and Ericsson to be had for $30. The T Series are workstations and feature ATI Mobility FireGL graphics and Display Port. The R series will be the budget line. All the lineups are widescreen eschewing standard ratios. Many feature SSD and GPS.
Intel is bringing the heat with its latest processor/chipset launch for the mobile community. It should be intriguing to see how its upcoming integrated graphics offerings stack up to the rather poor fare for laptops currently available from ATI and NVIDIA (both of which are extremely stream processor limited, offering just a small fraction of the power of their desktop brethren). Regardless of the outcome, Intel seems certain to continue a leadership role in the mobile platform business.
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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